Kangaroo TarTare Tacos

    This week’s Chef Inspired Taco is one that draws on the idea of exploration. Exploration and the inevitable result of discovering something new. Chef has been inspired by some of his own adventures in the world of culinary exploration and the ingredients he has come across. Whether the ingredients come from within the typical 100 mile radius he usually subscribes to, the influences from his worldly travels, researching his ever growing library of culinary influences, or a combination of all of the above

. After the great response to the Camel Taco chef featured a couple months ago, he asked himself what else would the Michiana area diners trust and follow his lead? The next two weeks, he has decided to introduce a product that promises push the mental and physical palates of the Taco Tuesday Chef Inspired Taco enthusiasts. Although it may challenge any preconceived ideas, chef is sure those who follow his lead will not be misguided or disappointed. This week, the Chef Inspired Taco features Kangaroo meat in the cleanest and purest form in his Kangaroo Tartare Taco.

    Kangaroo, being wild harvested from their natural environment are one of the most sustainable sources of protein we currently have roaming the worlds land masses. In a recent census, the Australian game department estimated the population density of kangaroos, in their expansive wild habitat, was calculated at 45 kangaroos per square kilometer. This study assured the chefs of Australia and the world of the already widely accepted understanding, kangaroos are in a very large and naturally sustained abundance. One way the kangaroo meat is sustainable is that, unlike most other animal protein sources, the male kangaroo remains extremely tender and lean. This means, unlike most other animal proteins, the females of the species are allowed to continue producing unharmed or without any stresses that are normally present in large scale industrial farming processes of animal protein destined for human consumption. Because the kangaroos are harvested in their natural environment, they also consume a natural diet, not one that is boosted with additives that are normally present in the large scale production and farming. For these reasons, chef has sourced the kangaroo meat for this week’s Chef Inspired Taco from a small scale, high quality source in their native Australia.
   

    Kangaroo meat, being naturally lean and extremely tender, lends itself beautifully to a raw or rare preparation. The fresh and clean flavors of a traditional tartare is the perfect way to highlight the beautiful subtle flavors naturally present in kangaroo meat. Not only does the flavors pair well with the kangaroo meat, but also the refreshing crisp cool temperature at which tartare is served is perfect on a beautifully warm sunny day.

    The crisp, clean taste and texture of the kangaroo meat is complimented perfectly with the classic addition of fresh minced shallot, the briny explosion of capers, and the beautifully rich and acidic flavors of a lemon and dijon vinaigrette. This tartare is wonderful on its own, however chef took it one further and topped the taco with a fresh and peppery arugula slaw and the classic rich butter texture and flavors of roasted pine nuts. To finish this flavor packed taco, chef has fused the flour tortilla to the crunchy heirloom corn tortilla with the house made truffle aioli to complete the classic ECB taco presentation.

Chiles En Nogada Tacos

Tonight's Featured Taco: Chiles En Nogada

dried ancho chili stuffed with caramelized onions, tomatoes, panella cheese, topped with walnut mousse, candied walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

This week’s Chef Inspired Taco plays on the evolution of a classic Mexican dish, Chiles en Nogada. This classic stuffed chile is the second of two infamous Chile Relleno dishes. Although, there is an endless array of Chile Relleno recipes, seeing as the name literally means “stuffed pepper”, the two well known throughout Mexico are the classic cheese and pork stuffed poblano peppers with a fresh tomato sauce, which originated in the Mexican state of Puebla. The second is the playful and tasty combination of sweet, savory, and spicy. The second, Chiles en Nogada, is the classic dish chef has been inspired to recreate and highlight in an ECB taco.

Chiles en Nogada classically highlights the balance of sweet, spicy, and savory. These elements are brought to the plate by a few classic ingredients from the Mexican pantry. The first of these being the necessary and all important flavor profile of a pepper. Throughout Mexico, the use of peppers is without a doubt, a crucial identifying element of the Mexican pantry. With such a vast array of peppers being so readily available, this provides for a vast array of Chile Relleno dishes. The use of dried peppers opens up a wide variety and depth of flavors that lend themselves to a variety of pleasant taste and textural experiences compared to the fresh poblanos or anaheims. For this reason, chef has decided to highlight all of the wonderful flavors of the ancho chile, which is the ripe and dried version of the poblano pepper.

The second element of this classic dish is the filling. Whether the filling be cheese, meat, vegetables, or a combination of all three. When contemplating the filling, chef found himself thinking about the smoky depth of the ancho pepper and wanted the filling to compliment the pepper. Chef decided to focus on the pairing of spice with sweet. There are plenty of sweet elements at chef’s fingertips, however, there was only one that felt completely fitting, the plantain! The plantain is a fruit that is common in the pantry of those countries that have a climate naturally suited to their production. The plantain has varying degrees of ripeness, and for each degree, there is a different flavor and textural component brought out in the fruit itself. For this variation, chef wanted to develop all of the deep flavor elements of a “black ripe” plantain. When one allows a plantain to get to the “black ripe” stage, all of the starches naturally present in the plantain have developed into sugars, allowing for a very deep and rich sweetness that cannot be rivalled when compared to its cousin, the banana. The roasting of plantains at this stage only deepen these flavors as all of the sugars begin to caramelize. The rich caramel flavors of the plantain is complimented with the addition of pilloncillo, or the raw and unrefined sugar that is common in Mexico. Pilloncillo not only adds sweetness, but also a complex layer of deep rich molasses like qualities. Pair this sweetness with the depth and spice of the ancho pepper and the subtle saltiness and soft texture of panela cheese and you will have all the flavor elements highlighted in harmony, like a church choir building to a joyous crescendo.

The third and ever so important element, the sauce. The classic chile relleno from Puebla is a fresh tomato sauce that is light and delicate, but highlights the brightness of a fresh pepper. The counterpart to the fresh tomato sauce, would be the classic sauce for chiles en nogada, a sweetened walnut cream sauce. Chef has taken this element and created a fresh whipped cream with the flavor backbone of fire roasted walnuts. This cream sauce would not be complete without the added textural and flavoring components of crushed candied walnuts and the sweet acidity of fresh pomegranate seeds.

Pineapple Tacos

This week's Chef Inspired Taco is one that draws inspiration from chef's playful side. Playful meaning, taking a traditional taco, isolating the individual ingredients, recognizing the individual qualities they bring to a dish, and then focusing on how they interconnect with one another. This seems the basis of building a dish, and one would be right in this assumption, however, the playful part is about to be revealed...

Chef has taken our Al Pastor taco and turned it on its head! Tonight we are featuring the Pineapple Taco! It being summer time, chef has been looking forward to and planning for this taco since last December. He needed to plan since last December, as he wanted to produce as many elements as possible for this taco in house. That meant, house curing the amazing back fat from the grass fed pigs he has been fabricating for Evil Czech and Corndance Tavern. These grass fed beauties have had amazing husbandry from a local farm in Cassopolis, Michigan.

Chef cured the fat back in the traditional Italian Lardo style and uncovered these beauties after their long winters rest last week. Needless to say, he is eager to share this amazing product and couldn't think of a better way to do so than be playful with it. 

In our traditional style, we roasted the pineapple in their skins to intensify the natural sweetness. Chef has then placed them on the grill to allow for those sugars to caramelize and intensify the sweetness that much more. The deep rich flavors produced by caramelized natural sugar would pair beautifully with the salt richness of the cured back fat.

Taking these two elements and combining them with the smokey and spicy flavors of the roasted chile's in the house made salsa roja and the roasted tomatillo and serrano chile salsa verede. Combine the fresh crisp bite of the cilantro and crunch of fresh diced onion, are the only natural components that could pair with these elements in a harmonious marriage of spicy, sweet, and savory.

Keeping in the tradition of ECB, chef has kept the dual shell style, however has chosen to highlight the unctuous and rich texture of our house made guacamole.

Prawn Ceviche Tacos

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Peruvian style ceviche prepared with prawns, cilantro, fresh onions and avocado. Spread between our famous double shells is a sun dried tomato cream cheese served with aguachile (chile water marinade)

Masquerading Mushroom Tacos

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Chipotle mushroom, Shiitake, oyster, cremini mushrooms sautéed with mojo de ajo, chipotle and cilantro then topped with a whipped truffle goat cheese and fresh baby arugula.

This week’s taco, much like the others, comes with a story. This week however, the story is not one of ancient spice trades, culinary fusion, or any of the other stories chef is fond of telling. This one starts two weeks ago, chef happened to be away from the restaurant, which has happened believe it or not, while he was away, he was approached by ECB loyalists. He happened to be wearing some ECBmerch and thus a conversation started.

Without immediately revealing what he did for a living, chef held a conversation about ECB and this couples feelings toward his food. They happened to stumble into a conversation about tacos, and the chef inspired taco none the less, which lead him to find out, this particular couple loved ECB and were regular guests, however they missed having the FunGuy Taco. Chef found this interesting and was committed to giving them a vegetarian mushroom taco that would fool even the most seasoned veg-heads into thinking they may be eating meat. Thus, the Masquerading Mushroom Taco was born, mushrooms masquerading as meat!

With our house blend of gourmet mushrooms, sautéed in an amazingly sensual bath of garlic and olive oil, finished with chipotle peppers and fresh cilantro, this blend will lead anyone to do a double take. Top this mind perplexing blend of mushrooms with fresh baby arugula tossed in lime juice, all of which is inside the classic ECB taco shells. This week, ECB’s double taco shell is held together with a whipped truffle goat cheese. This is a taco meat lovers and veg-heads can unit under! For today only, partake in this wonderful mushroom masquerade!